Saturday, October 31, 2009

Parkway Funding

As a recent editorial from the Sacramento Bee examines, for several years there have been efforts to ensure a stable source of funding for the Parkway through some form of tax increase, which have all failed and the Parkway continues to deteriorate.

The solution is that embraced by other signature parks in the country.

The Parkway is falling behind about $1.1 million annually just in maintenance, according to the American River Parkway Financial Needs Study Update 2006 (p. vii), so it is impossible to care for the Parkway up as it was intended to be cared for, let alone to improve it by adding new land and expanding its educational and recreational assets; particularly during troubled economic times.

The solution we have proposed for stabilizing funding for the American River Parkway is to establish a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of local government entities (currently being discussed by local public leadership) to govern the Parkway and creating a nonprofit American River Parkway Conservancy to provide management and a supplemental fund raising capability through philanthropy, which you can read more about on our website’s news page in our press releases from January 20 & July 14, 2009.

This is the model being used by the Central Park Conservancy to manage Central Park in New York—the Conservancy provides 85% of funding needed by Central Park—and the Sacramento Zoological Society to manage the Sacramento Zoo, which they have wholly done since 1997 under contract with the City of Sacramento.

Another superb example is the San Dieguito River Park in San Diego, California—an excerpt from their website:

“The San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park Joint Powers Authority, also known as the San Dieguito River Park, is the agency responsible for creating a natural open space park in the San Dieguito River Valley. The Park will someday extend from the ocean at Del Mar to Volcan Mountain, just north of Julian.

“The San Dieguito River Park Joint Powers Authority was formed as a separate agency on June 12, 1989, by the County of San Diego and the Cities of Del Mar, Escondido, Poway, San Diego and Solana Beach. It was empowered to acquire, plan, design, improve, operate and maintain the San Dieguito River Park.”

The idea in this editorial from the Sacramento Bee—correct in its call for a JPA and stable funding—but not in the benefit assessment district (more taxes) or the idea to support the Parkway through the purchase of $50 passports as the passport funds get swept into the park's general fund which can be used to support any of the numerous parks and activities throughout the County, still leaving the Parkway competing for limited funding rather than having a dedicated funding stream which the JPA/Conservancy combo would provide.

An excerpt.

“To remedy that, elected officials and citizen groups have been exploring a joint powers agreement between Sacramento County (the historical steward of the parkway) and the cities of Sacramento, Rancho Cordova and Folsom to create a "special benefit assessment district."

“While a draft agreement is heading toward a Nov. 19 vote of the county's Recreation and Parks Commission – and then on to the county board and the three city councils – major questions remain on the details.

“Would the proposed governing structure (two votes for the county, four votes for the cities) fragment the vision and administration of the parkway – giving the cities de facto control though the county owns and operates the parkway? And would the proposed assessment really go toward security and maintenance operations, or toward building new facilities in a parkway that until now has remained a largely natural river setting?

“While all this gets hammered out, ordinary folks who use the parkway can help mitigate the funding crisis.

“Buy a $50 Parks Passport. The money goes directly to park operations, and covers unlimited day use and parking for a year. It provides a way for people who bike or walk in the parkway to support the parkway – and other parks in Sacramento County. Currently, the county sells only 2,500 passes a year.”

Friday, October 30, 2009

Problems & Solutions

When people present a problem and a solution is offered but the people with the problem says the offered solution is “nuts”, perhaps it’s a clue to what is really going on rather than concern with solving the problem, which is the situation we see as reported by the Wall Street Journal, as the global warming arguments continue to unravel in the face of solid science.

An excerpt.

“Suppose for a minute—which is about 59 seconds too long, but that's for another column—that global warming poses an imminent threat to the survival of our species. Suppose, too, that the best solution involves a helium balloon, several miles of garden hose and a harmless stream of sulfur dioxide being pumped into the upper atmosphere, all at a cost of a single F-22 fighter jet.

“Good news, right? Maybe, but not if you're Al Gore or one of his little helpers.

“The hose-in-the-sky approach to global warming is the brainchild of Intellectual Ventures, a Bellevue, Wash.-based firm founded by former Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myhrvold. The basic idea is to engineer effects similar to those of the 1991 mega-eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, which spewed so much sulfuric ash into the stratosphere that it cooled the earth by about one degree Fahrenheit for a couple of years.

“Could it work? Mr. Myhrvold and his associates think it might, and they're a smart bunch. Also smart are University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and writer Stephen Dubner, whose delightful "SuperFreakonomics"—the sequel to their runaway 2005 bestseller "Freakonomics"—gives Myhrvold and Co. pride of place in their lengthy chapter on global warming. Not surprisingly, global warming fanatics are experiencing a Pinatubo-like eruption of their own.

“Mr. Gore, for instance, tells Messrs. Levitt and Dubner that the stratospheric sulfur solution is "nuts." Former Clinton administration official Joe Romm, who edits the Climate Progress blog, accuses the authors of "[pushing] global cooling myths" and "sheer illogic." The Union of Concerned Scientists faults the book for its "faulty statistics." Never to be outdone, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman scores "SuperFreakonomics" for "grossly [misrepresenting] other peoples' research, in both climate science and economics."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Water Briefing

An excellent briefing on the water issue in California from The Economist.

An excerpt.

“IN 2007 Oliver Wanger, a federal judge in California, ordered the huge pumping stations of the Sacramento Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas, to reduce by a third the water they delivered to two aqueducts that run south to the farms of the San Joaquin Valley and onward to the vast conurbations of southern California. His reason was the delta smelt, a translucent fish less than eight centimetres (three inches) long that lives only in the delta and is considered endangered under federal law. The pumping plants were sucking in the fish and grinding them up. The next year, a “biological opinion” by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service reinforced Judge Wanger’s order. Pumping from the delta remains restricted.

“The consequences of these restrictions, which coincided with a drought that is now in its third year, reach far beyond one small population of fish. About two-thirds of Californians get at least some of their water from the delta, so with the stroke of a judicial pen the entire state, the world’s eighth-largest economy and America’s “fruit basket”, entered an economic and political crisis.

“Water has divided Californians since Mark Twain remarked that “whiskey’s for drinking, water’s for fighting over.” But this latest conflict comes as America’s largest state is politically gridlocked and holding back a national economic recovery. From Australia to Israel, parched places all over the world are now looking to California to see whether, and how, it solves one of the most intractable problems of thirsty civilisations in dry regions.

“The pumping restrictions were a huge victory for environmentalists, who fill the ranks of one of the three armies in California’s perennial water wars. With increasing success since the 1970s, greens have argued that the delta in particular, and California’s dammed rivers and wetlands in general, are on the verge of ecological collapse and must be saved.

“For the other two armies, the restrictions amounted to a stinging defeat. One army consists of urban consumers in the dry south, represented by the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies water to about 19m people, over half the state’s population, and gets 30% of its supply from one of the two delta aqueducts. The authority has had to pay farmers in the Central Valley to give up their allocations and let their fields lie fallow, says Jeffrey Kightlinger, its boss. This year it also had to impose mandatory conservation measures.

“The pain has been far worse, however, for the third force: agriculture. The farmers and farm workers who have been hardest hit live in the western San Joaquin Valley, which is supplied by the Westlands Water District, America’s largest irrigation authority. Westlands has contracts to draw water from the other (federally financed) aqueduct. Tom Birmingham, its boss, says that, because of the drought and the pumping restrictions, it is receiving only 10% of its entitlement this year.

“The result, says Mr Birmingham, is fallow land, farm workers being laid off and “people standing in food lines for hours”. In some areas unemployment runs at 40%. There are scenes reminiscent of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”, though most of the poor and jobless are not white “Okies”, but Latinos. Just as the “dust bowl” swept across the Great Plains in the 1930s, so in the San Joaquin Valley, fields are reverting to desert and signs read, “Congress created this dust bowl”.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dams & Canal Included?

It appears there is still a possibility for new dams in the bill being worked on by state legislators, but we will hold our hurrahs until we see the signed product, given the adamant resistance to dams by the deep ecology inspired environmental movement which appears to be driving the legislative narrative of the controlling party.

But, again, hope springs eternal that common sense prevails and the reality of water in California—nature provides but we must capture and save—is effectively addressed.

An excerpt from the story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Strict conservation, new dams and a peripheral canal are all on the table after six weeks of closed-door negotiations to solve the state's water crisis and restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ecosystem.

“Leaders in the state Senate and Assembly are still discussing how to pay for the plan, which could cost $9.4 billion.

“The Legislature could vote on the plan as soon as the end of the week.

“State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said that he did not want the proposal to "linger" and that the overhaul that has been decades in the making has a "momentum that did not exist before."

"There is no question the status quo is unacceptable, and there is no other ... package in our respective houses that would allow us to move forward in a comprehensive way," Steinberg said.

“Water for 24 million people in California - about two-thirds of the state's population - flows through the delta system, which has a series of levees and canals at great risk of failing in a natural disaster such as an earthquake.”

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Water, Water

The special session on water convenes, but with the controlling party still trapped by the narrative forbidding new dams for the needed capture and storage of the abundance of water in Northern California, for flood protection here, and use in the valleys of central California and the homes and businesses of Southern California, we can probably expect more confusing mandates to arise; but, that being said, hope springs eternal that a balanced approach will emerge.

An excerpt from the San Diego Union-Tribune about the session.

“The Legislature today moves into crunch time on landmark legislation to modernize California's waterworks and assure reliable water supplies for the entire state for decades to come. Perhaps never has the San Diego County economy had more at stake in a single package of bills, and perhaps never has gutsy leadership from the San Diego County legislative delegation been more desperately needed.

“Legislators were expected to return to the Capitol today to officially convene the special session called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to deal with the water package, and to begin joint hearings by key Senate and Assembly committees. Floor votes could come by the end of this week or next.

“The legislative package is essentially a collection of water policy decisions and a bond issue. Together, they would pave the way for construction of one or more new dams and groundwater storage reservoirs in Northern California, a canal to carry water through or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to Southern California, repair of the delta's aged levees and restoration of the degraded delta ecology that imperils threatened salmon, delta smelt and other fish. The legislation would also create new governing bodies to set standards and oversee groundwater management and statewide conservation goals. The bond issue, projected by observers last week to run to at least $9 billion, would help pay for it all.

“The issues surrounding these bills have brought out some of the most powerful interests in California — agriculture, environmentalists, business and labor — and placed enormous political pressure on legislators. The bond issue requires a two-thirds vote for passage, while the other bills could be passed on simple majority votes. No one today can reliably predict the outcome; every vote will be crucial.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rangers Report, September

The monthly Rangers Report of crimes—and other incidents—committed on the Parkway is available on the Sacrament County Parks Department website, Rangers Page.

You can also review past reports there.

The links are on the bottom of the page.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Past Homeless Camps Photos

There is an interesting photo gallery of homeless camps along the river—and elsewhere—at the Sacramento Bee.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Global Warming Oooops!

Validating what many have long suspected, the “science” at the core of the global warming claim continues unraveling, as this article from the Washington Post notes.

An excerpt.

“The world's policymakers and scientists have made a critical error in how they count biofuels' contribution to human-generated greenhouse-gas emissions, according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Science.

“Although the article addresses a wonkish subject -- how to measure the environmental impact of energy sources such as ethanol and wood chips, which absorb carbon as they grow but release it back into the atmosphere when they're burned -- it has broad implications. The method undercounts the global-warming contribution of some bioenergy crops, the team of 13 researchers wrote, because it doesn't factor in what sort of land-use changes might occur to produce them.

"We made an honest mistake within the scientific framing of the debate, and we've got to correct it to make it right," said Steven P. Hamburg, chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund and one of the paper's authors.

“When calculating the greenhouse-gas emissions limit, government officials in the United States, Europe and elsewhere do not count the carbon that biofuels release when they are burned. But carbon is released when a producer clears and burns trees, even to grow a crop destined for the biofuels market. Officials also established a legal system that limits emissions from energy use but not from land-use activities such as clearing forests.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

The End is Near!

Global warming is only the latest in an endless series of possible calamities that doomsayers have trotted out to scare humanity into adopting one course or another—often filling the doomsayers own pockets—and yet, what has been found to be most true, is that human inventiveness continues to provide progress and prosperity for more and more of the global population; and that is a very good thing.

This article from the Property & Environment Research Center examines the recent history of environmental alarmists.

An excerpt.

“Last year marked the 40th anniversary of Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, one of the two most influential environmentalist books of the 1960s with Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962). Ehrlich's tract is now best remembered for its inflammatory statements that "the battle to feed all of humanity is over" and that "hundreds of millions of people" were about to starve to death in spite of any large-scale attempts to boost agricultural production. To Ehrlich's supporters, he only got his timing wrong. To his critics, he misunderstood the inherent capacity of market economies to tap into creative human brains and to continually deliver innovative solutions to pressing problems.

“What both Ehrlich's supporters and detractors fail to observe is how unoriginal his rhetoric was. Of course, the English clergyman and economist Thomas R. Malthus had articulated similar arguments in his "Essay on the Principle of Population" (1798), but so did many other writers in the interim period.

“By a strange coincidence, The Population Bomb was published the year of the death of William Vogt (1902-1968), the man who had introduced Paul Ehrlich to the Malthusian worldview. While largely forgotten today, Vogt was the author of the Road to Survival (1948), a book that reached between 20 and 30 million individuals and was the biggest environmental best-seller of all time until the publication of Silent Spring.

“Vogt belonged to a large group of individuals, many of whom had previously been active in the eugenics movement, who witnessed with horror the diffusion of new agricultural techniques, medicines, and pesticides to less advanced regions of the world. These apparently beneficial technologies, they argued, would soon result in rapid population growth, resource depletion, environmental destruction, and ultimately social collapse. To spread their message more effectively, some propagandists began to use catchwords such as "population bomb," "P-bomb" and "population explosion." This rhetoric became so widespread that it even graced the cover of Time magazine in 1960.

“The importance of population control activists in paving the way for modern environmentalism is now downplayed in favor of causes such as the search for better environmental amenities (clear rivers, clean air, and more green spaces), pesticide use, nuclear weapons, and the rise of ecological science. And yet, the influence of post-war "Neo-Malthusian ecologists" like Vogt cannot be underestimated.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lunch in the Parkway

A story in the Sacramento Bee about folks working close to the Parkway getting over there for lunchtime workouts is something we hope to someday see all along the Parkway.

As it now stands in the lower third of the Parkway—from Discovery Park to Cal Expo—it is not safe to venture into, during lunch or any other time, due to the large-scale illegal camping by the homeless, which now includes about 20 registered sex offenders, as we posted on earlier.

But for those folks out near the other end, it is relatively safe, and it is good they are enjoying our premier recreational area.

An excerpt from the Bee story.

“All along the recreational trail, from Sacramento to Folsom, you'll hear a similar refrain right around lunchtime. Employees who work nearby seeking a temporary respite from rigors of the workplace.

“Wait a minute. Aren't workers in these straitened economic times supposed to gulp down a PB&J at their desks, wash it down with a cup of coffee and press their noses back to the grindstone?

“People who work near the American River Parkway, Lake Natoma Recreation Area, nearby bike trails and the waterways running through and near them defy that stereotype.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Diversity & Cities

From the perspective of Sacramento, one of the most balanced cities in the country in term of ethnic diversity—while often suggested we model ourselves after most of the mid sized cities mentioned in this article, Portland for instance—perhaps there is a reason for them to model themselves after us.

This article from New Geography looks at the lack of diversity in several cities offered as model cities.

An excerpt.

“Among the media, academia and within planning circles, there’s a generally standing answer to the question of what cities are the best, the most progressive and best role models for small and mid-sized cities. The standard list includes Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, and Denver. In particular, Portland is held up as a paradigm, with its urban growth boundary, extensive transit system, excellent cycling culture, and a pro-density policy. These cities are frequently contrasted with those of the Rust Belt and South, which are found wanting, often even by locals, as “cool” urban places.

“But look closely at these exemplars and a curious fact emerges. If you take away the dominant Tier One cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles you will find that the “progressive” cities aren’t red or blue, but another color entirely: white.

“In fact, not one of these “progressive” cities even reaches the national average for African American percentage population in its core county. Perhaps not progressiveness but whiteness is the defining characteristic of the group.

“The progressive paragon of Portland is the whitest on the list, with an African American population less than half the national average. It is America's ultimate White City. The contrast with other, supposedly less advanced cities is stark.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

People Friendly Parks

As beautiful as the American River Parkway is, it is not very friendly to folks who just want to sit in a nice place and commune with the natural surroundings without fear of being mugged.

There are too few places where park benches are situated with a view of the river and it is a shortcoming that can be resolved with a more vigorous management and fund raising organization working under contract with the Joint Powers Authority that is being discussed to govern the Parkway.

This article from the Wall Street Journal profiles a person who designs public spaces just for that reason and she has also written a book, Parks, Plants and People.

An excerpt from the article.

“Lynden B. Miller has white hair and a green thumb. A public-garden designer of renown both in her native New York and elsewhere, she also has the kind of full-blooming forcefulness that could get a century plant to reconsider its position and flower annually. "I feel very passionately about this," said Ms. Miller. "People need places to go in a city and sit on a bench and be connected with nature."

“In the early 1980s at the urging of a city-planner friend, Ms. Miller, then a painter and ardent weekend gardener, took on the daunting task of restoring the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, a long-neglected and vandalized six-acre triptych of Italian, French and English-inspired designs. It took almost five years of raising funds and awareness, of scouring graffiti, hauling trash, pulling weeds, analyzing and amending soil, corralling volunteers, amassing and planting vast quantities of annuals and perennials, bulbs, shrubs, bushes, trees and ornamental grasses, all with the goal of giving visitors an eyeful at every season.

“When work was completed in 1987, New Yorkers had a glorious new showplace and retreat. Ms. Miller had a new career. Since then she has created 18 urban edens in and around the Big Apple, including projects in Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, the New York Botanical Garden, and on the campuses of Columbia, Princeton and Stony Brook universities. "I opened a horticultural Pandora's Box," Ms. Miller said. "I was going to go back to my studio, but painting with plants was more challenging and exciting."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sacramento, Our Home

In this article from a Midwesterner now in Sacramento, the realities that many area natives eventually come to realize about their home are lovingly described.

I was born in Sacramento and, like many others, moved away to look at other areas of the country—Seattle, Madison Wisconsin, & Santa Cruz in my case—assuming anywhere was better than hot, dry Sacramento.

Many of us have returned and discovered the ambience and amenities that make Sacramento (in terms of quality of life) the world-class-city my cousin once envisioned enhancing when he led the group that brought the Sacramento Kings to town.

This Sacramento Bee article captures our fair city in many of its most pleasant aspects.

An excerpt.

“I've started to think of this town with a silent last vowel, as Sacrament(o), a sacred place I call home.

“Here's a short list of reasons why I have ended up loving this place: trees, trains, rivers and gold – or at least the search for it.

“And let's not forget the oftmentioned Delta breeze.

“All are truly sacraments, gifts to this geography that make it indeed special.

“Trees: Our shade, our nourisher

“First, there is the sacrament of the trees.

“I remember how proud Sacramentans were to tell us their city had as many trees as Paris. (Paris!) Then came the murky qualification: Per square foot. Maybe per capita. Per mile? That part was harder to remember.

“But we all know the trees here are special. Just look around: the sycamores, oaks, redwoods, magnolias, cypress, crepe myrtles, English elms, and on and on. Trees bless this city with its natural canopy, providing an organic sunscreen on hot summer days.”

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homelessness in Sacramento

This column from the Sacramento Bee about the underlying politics of homelessness in Sacramento is merely saying what everyone who has been following this issue already knows; that as long as the only services provided to the homeless are domestic enabling services rather than personal reformation services—tough love—the situation will remain as it is described here.

An excerpt.

“Together with Mayor Kevin Johnson and others in the faith and charity communities, they paint quite a picture: A Catholic nun and some very affluent people advocating for homeless folks to remain in squalor – preferably next to other poor people and a safe distance from Sacramento's well-heeled neighborhoods.

“It's not that these voices shouldn't be heard. They just shouldn't be the dominant voices. It's time for their 15 minutes to be up. Winter is upon us – the first storm came and went – and Sacramento wasted this year on a tent city proposal that has no support outside a small group of advocates.

“Meanwhile, the county eliminated many of its services for the poor. And to great fanfare, Loaves & Fishes keeps preaching a handout as opposed to a hand up. They enable destructive behavior and invite others to donate money and goods to this cause.

“How about another approach?

“Sacramento is a compassionate and sensible community. It's compassionate to want to help everyone needing shelter. It's sensible to conclude that local government can't help everyone. Any effort should require people to follow rules, stay clean and sober and stay out of trouble.”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

American River Watershed & Floods

The most crucial bit of information in this news story from the Sacramento Bee is the reminder of the fact that the American River Watershed is one of the most flood-prone in the nation, due to the prevalence of rain storms that can flow in from the Pacific.

It is this propensity that created the importance for constructing the Auburn Dam, the only way to insure a 500 year level of flood protection for the Sacramento area, which now has a 100 year level, lower than that of New Orleans when it flooded.

As we saw just a little over 20 years ago in 1986, the potential for flooding in Sacramento from too much water in the American River Watershed and too little storage capability, is high.

An excerpt.

“The storm that soaked the state this week was the California equivalent of a hurricane, according to experts working to ready the public for the next one.

“Called an "atmospheric river," the storm pulled a geyser of moisture all the way across the Pacific Ocean, from the tropics near Indonesia. The narrow channel of intense rain scored a direct hit on California's Central Coast, then gushed like a fire hose all day.

“Near Big Sur, more than 20 inches of rain were recorded in a single day. Sacramento received 3 inches, enough to make this the city's fifth-wettest October in history.

“Had the storm hit farther south, it could have caused devastating mudslides on recently burned Southern California mountain slopes. Had it occurred later in winter, when the ground was already saturated, the storm might have caused dangerous floods in the Sacramento region.

"We just dodged a bullet," said Lucy Jones, chief scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project, which is researching atmospheric rivers.

“Smaller versions, born near Hawaii, are popularly known as "Pineapple Express" storms.

"We've shown ... they are largely responsible for the big rains and big floods that occur," said Marty Ralph, chief of the water cycle branch at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. "Those are the ones to watch out for."…

“Ralph's lab in 2005 began installing weather instruments in the canyons of the American River, making it the nation's most closely monitored watershed. The river was chosen for its potential to cause disastrous floods.”

Friday, October 16, 2009

Agriculture & California

In the ongoing discussion between the needs of industrial agriculture and the more specialized issues emanating from the environmental movement, what can often be lost is the vital importance of American industrial agriculture—especially that within the great valleys of California—to the growing population of the world.

This article from New Geography examines this gap.

An excerpt.

“A complex agriculture, along with urban culture, is one of the fundamental pillars of human civilization, and one of the fundamental bulkwarks of American prosperity. For families and communities involved in farming and ranching it’s also a way of life that is cherished, oftentimes passed on through generations, taking on reverential if not religious overtones.

“At the same time in today’s overwhelmingly urban culture, cooking has become prime time entertainment, dining a social event, and what a person eats is increasingly associated with a healthy body and mind – sometimes a sort of spiritual well being. This elevates agriculture to an important issue even among those who have never spent a day on a farm.

“Sadly, recent years have seen mounting efforts to discount the value, in particular, of the industry’s productive core. A just published feature story in Time magazine – Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food – makes the following claim. “With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later.”

“Yet it is industrial, highly commercialized agriculture that first transformed America – and increasingly such countries as Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Canada – major forces in the world economy. The trend towards smaller-scale specialized production is indeed a welcome addition to our agricultural economy, but it is principally large-scale, scientifically advanced farming that produces the vast majority of the average family’s foodstuffs and accounts for all but a tiny percentage of our exports.

“The attack on “industrial” agriculture reflects a growing trend by environmentalists to subordinate all productive industry to their own particular agenda. Some extremists in the local food movement would discourage cold climate inhabitants from the luxury of a midwinter tropical fruit because of the energy used in shipping. Others propose elaborate schemes for urban farming so that land can be left to nature instead of cultivation.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Water Announcement

After storm, Calif reservoirs up 1-foot and rising
The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009

FRESNO, Calif. -- Northern California's biggest storm in October since 1962 is raising water levels in the state's reservoirs, but not enough to ease the drought conditions that have plagued the state for three years.

Officials at a meeting in Fresno Wednesday said Lakes Shasta and Oroville in Northern California each had risen by a full foot by late Tuesday night as they continued to see runoff from the storm.

Keith Coolidge, acting chief deputy director of the joint state and federal water agency, CALFED, said the Sacramento River, which had been flowing at 6,500 cubic feet per second, was rushing at 18,000 Wednesday. The amounts are equal to a like number of basketballs passing a fixed point each second.

Despite the early storm, state officials are planning for a dry 2010.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Global Warming?

Though, as this column from the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the consensus on global warming is fraying, legislation to deal with it still appears to be winding its way through Congress.

An excerpt.

"What happened to global warming?" read the headline - on BBC News on Oct. 9, no less. Consider it a cataclysmic event: Mainstream news organizations have begun reporting on scientific research that suggests that global warming may not be caused by man and may not be as dire and imminent as alarmists suggest.

“Indeed, as the BBC's climate correspondent Paul Hudson reported, the warmest year recorded globally "was not in 2008 or 2007, but 1998." It's true, he continued, "For the last 11 years, we have not observed any increase in global temperatures."

“At a London conference later this month, Hudson reported, solar scientist Piers Corbyn will present evidence that solar-charged particles have a big impact on global temperatures.

“Western Washington University geologist Don J. Easterbrook presented research last year that suggests that the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) caused warmer temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s. With Pacific sea surface temperatures cooling, Easterbrook expects 30 years of global cooling.

“EPA analyst Alan Carlin - an MIT-trained economist with a degree in physics - referred to "solar variability" and Easterbrook's work in a document that warned that politics had prompted the Environmental Protection Agency and countries to pay "too little attention to the science of global warming" as partisans ignored the lack of global warming over the past 10 years. At first the EPA buried the paper, then it permitted Carlin to post it on his personal Web site.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cool Roofs

Modern technology is indeed wonderful, and this array of new roofing solutions from Fast Company rolls out some of the latest additions to that wonderment.

An excerpt.

“MIT's Thermeleon material is a composite of layers that makes it thermochromic--on exposure to heat it changes color from black to white. It works by sandwiching a common polymer between flexible plastic layers, with a black one at the back--when cold the polymer solution stays dissolved and the black rear face shows through, and when it heats up the solution condenses to form light-scattering droplets.

“The upshot is that when the sun is shining a roof tile covered in the material is white-colored, scattering up to 80% of the sunlight back and thus keeping the building beneath the roof cooler. The result is a 20% reduction in cost to keep the interior at a comfortable temperature in the summer, a figure which also comes with an eco-friendly drop in the electricity supply demands. During winter, of course, you'd prefer your roof to capture as much heat as possible from the sun, which is where the black coloring is handy--the tiles scatter just 30% of incoming solar radiation then.

“The team's working on micro-encapsulating the chemicals, so that in future they may work as a paintable or spray-on coating, and then if the prices drop to match the innovation, the tech could also find much use in the developing world.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Crime in Parkway

While it is true—as this Sunday editorial from the Sacramento Bee reports—that good use drives out bad, what is not noted is that local public leadership has allowed a large concentration of illegal homeless camping and supportive domestic services in the Lower Reach area of the Parkway (Discovery Park to Cal Expo) and adjacent neighborhoods, that has helped create and sustain the crimogenic environment that ensures crimes against Parkway users will continue.

It is our position, posted on our website, that until the Parkway is independently managed by a nonprofit organization—created and overseen by a Joint Powers Authority of Parkway adjacent governments—able to raise substantial supplemental funding philanthropically, supporting increased public safety funding, the situation will continue to degrade.

Our annual report from last year—pgs. 37-38—recounts media reported crimes over a twelve month period in 2007-2008.

And from five years ago, this 2004 Sacramento News & Review article, reveals the longevity and toxicity of the crime problem in the Lower Reach.

An excerpt from the 2004 Sacramento News & Review article.

“Encompassing 32 miles from downtown Sacramento snaking east into Folsom, the American River Bike Trail is a regional jewel of recreation and outdoor splendor. But some enthusiasts point to a discomfiting trend of incidents--including muggings, vehicle burglaries and assaults--that suggest public safety on the trail is sorely lacking. Those trail users argue that a combination of understaffed park rangers and law-enforcement agencies can make an everyday outing turn ugly.

“Lloyd Billingsley, who has eluded two attempted muggings while riding on the trail, said he saw a sheriff’s deputy with an M-16 on July 4, while riding between Watt Avenue and Goethe Park.

“He’s sort of ready to rock and roll with this thing. I stopped and asked what was going on,” Billingsley said. “He said someone was out there shooting off a gun. But I talked to some people at the park, and they said there have been four people robbing bike riders.”

“Between May 10 and June 30 [2004] this year, there were six robberies, assaults or combinations of the two reported on the trail in the Northgate and Del Paso Heights areas. In one incident, the victim was stabbed before the assailant took money; in two, the assailants pointed a gun or what appeared to be a firearm; and in another, a victim was hit with a stick.

“According to reports filed by the Sacramento Police Department, in all cases, the suspect descriptions were different, as was the method of operation.

“In addition to those, since 2002, there have been 11 other reported cases of assault or battery on the trail, two robberies, one rape and one attempted rape. In one case, a bicyclist was seriously injured after riding into a head-high length of what may have been fishing line strung across the path.”

An excerpt from the 2009 Sacramento Bee editorial.

“Two recent incidents on the American River Parkway trail have been chilling to anyone who bikes on the section of the trail near downtown.

“Last month, a 64-year-old man riding in the afternoon was brought down by an assailant who threw another bike in his path, then began hitting him with a pole. The victim suffered a broken hip from the fall but no other serious injuries. He scared off the attacker by telling him that a police friend of his was riding a short distance behind.

“Then, last week, a 36-year-old man riding in the same area was confronted by a person who cursed at him, then hit him on the head, possibly with a stick. The cyclist managed to stay on his bike and escape.

“Police arrested suspects in both cases: a 14-year-old boy from nearby Del Paso Heights in the first assault and a 24-year-old homeless man in last week's attack.”

Sunday, October 11, 2009

California, Problems and All, Still #1

Regardless of the problems we have in our beloved state, it is still the number one place Americans want to live, as this story reveals.

An excerpt.

“For the sixth year in a row, California tops the list of states that Americans would choose to live in if they did not live in the states where they are now.

“Florida, which was the most popular state in 2001, retains second place on the list and Hawaii is number three, as it was in 2007.

“New York City tops the list of cities that people would most like to live in or near, followed by Denver and San Francisco….

“The Harris Poll has asked these questions almost every year since 1997. Florida topped the list of the most popular states every year from 1997 to 2001. California jumped to the number one position in 2002 and has remained there ever since.

“After California and Florida, the states where the largest number of Americans would like to live are Hawaii (#3), Texas (#4), and Colorado (#5). Next came three states tied for 6th place: Arizona, North Carolina and Washington state.”

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Policing the Homeless

In this article from City Journal, the efforts of the police utilizing broken windows policing have substantially reduced crime in the skid row of Los Angeles; but the homeless advocates there—as in Sacramento—are opposed to any police efforts within the homeless community focusing on illegal camping, loitering, and other low-level street crimes that form the heart of broken windows policing.

We, as a community, should always do what we can to help the homeless, but not at the expense of the public safety of the other members of the community; and we should also approach the problem with a firm grasp on the personal responsibility aspect of the homelessness situation.

An excerpt.

“The homeless industry on Los Angeles’s Skid Row lost its final shred of legitimacy this summer. Three murders and their aftermath exposed the advocates’ opposition to assertive policing as dangerous, hypocritical posturing. Los Angeles officials should reorient their funding priorities in light of the lessons of the summer of 2009.

“For 25 years, Skid Row constituted a real-world experiment in the application of homeless-advocate ideology. The squalor that engulfed the 50-block district just east of downtown Los Angeles was the direct outgrowth of advocates’ claims that the homeless should be exempt from the rules of ordinary society. The result was not a reign of peace and love among society’s underdogs, but rather brutal predation and depravity. Occupants of the filthy tents and lean-tos that covered every inch of sidewalk in the area pimped each other out and stole from, stabbed, and occasionally killed one another. Gangs and pushers from South Central and East Los Angeles operated with impunity under cover of the chaos that reigned on the streets.

“The intrepid small wholesalers and warehouse owners who tried to keep the area’s once vigorous commercial trade alive removed feces, condoms, and hypodermic needles from the entrance to their properties every morning. Elderly residents of the local Single Room Occupancy hotels were imprisoned in their tiny apartments, terrified to go outside.

“In 2006, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton announced a full-scale attack on Skid Row anarchy. His Safer City Initiative (SCI) would be a demonstration project, he said, for Broken Windows theory, which holds that tolerance for low-level forms of crime and disorder allows more serious crime to fester. When the police started enforcing jaywalking, public urination, and public camping laws, thousands of warrant absconders and violent parolees on the lam lost their refuge. Order gradually returned to the streets.

“The homeless themselves were the Safer City Initiative’s most immediate beneficiaries. As the lawlessness in the encampments was pushed back, deaths from drug overdoses, untreated disease, and other non-homicidal causes of mortality diminished as well, falling 36 percent in just three years. Skid Row’s violent crime—the victims of which were almost always other vagrants—decreased 45 percent from the first nine months of 2006, before SCI began, to the first nine months of 2009. The lean-tos faded away as their inhabitants discovered that they could no longer smoke weed and crack in them all day without disturbance.

“Skid Row’s radical social-service providers and public-housing advocates declared war on the Safer City Initiative. They directed a nonstop barrage of propaganda and lawsuits against the LAPD, claiming that its officers were abusing the poor on behalf of would-be gentrifiers. One of the most vocal critics was Casey Horan, executive director of Lamp Community and a highly public presence in Skid Row politics. Lamp is a subsidized housing provider that counsels its mentally ill clients to use drugs “safely”—an approach to drug treatment known as “harm reduction”—rather than requiring abstinence from drugs as a condition of residency. Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez has championed Horan, giving Lamp a prominent and always virtuous role in his book and subsequent movie about Skid Row, The Soloist.”

Friday, October 09, 2009

Parkway Crime Announcement

October 8, 2009

Man arrested in assault on bicyclist on American River trail

From Bill Lindelof

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of assault for striking a bicyclist Wednesday on the American River bike trail.

Police arrested Philip Roberts (see photo), 24, who investigators said is homeless.

The 36-year-old Sacramento bicyclist was riding on the bike trail about 9:30 a.m. near Northgate Boulevard-Del Paso Boulevard when he was confronted by a man who cursed at him.

As he was passing the man, the bicyclist was hit on the head with an object, possibly a small stick, and punched.

The bicyclist was nearly knocked from his bike but recovered and kept riding. The bicyclist was wearing a helmet and was not injured.

Officers checked the area and found the suspect near Colfax Street and Redwood Avenue in North Sacramento.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

San Joaquin River Restoration

This is a wonderful project, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, as long as the farmers dependent upon water are able to get what they need to provide food for the nation and the world.

An excerpt.

“FRESNO � It all starts Thursday with a gentle surge of water to be released from Friant Dam, northeast of Fresno, into the San Joaquin River.

“A massive, unprecedented and unpredictable river restoration project will begin, reawakening miles of dried riverbed and salmon runs that have been extinct for six decades.

“Long stretches of the river have been dry since the dam was built in the 1940s. Parts have become a gutter for the San Joaquin Valley, collecting muddy seepage, trash and abandoned cars.

“Now, in a nine-year effort that could cost up to $1.2 billion, the 350-mile San Joaquin will be reconnected with the Pacific Ocean. Salmon, which once teemed in its waters, may again migrate from near Fresno to the ocean.

“The project begins with test releases to determine how the river will respond. Engineers then will widen the riverbed in some places and dig new channels around obstacles.

“In recent years, government agencies across the nation have attempted other big-river restoration projects, from the Penobscot River in Maine to the Klamath in Oregon. But nobody is restoring a big, salmon-supporting river this far south or a river as damaged as the San Joaquin.

"I've never seen anything like this on this scale," said Bay Area-based biologist Chuck Hanson, a longtime fisheries consultant and now a member of an independent advisory committee on the San Joaquin restoration.”

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

California Dams & Deep Ecology

In any discussion of dams, as in this article from the San Francisco Chronicle, the usual suspects present the values of earth over that of people, who are—to those inspired by the deep ecology platform underlying the environmental movement—the problem, and the less people there are, the closer (in their mind) we are to a solution.

Consequently, any human technology that allows for more people, dams being one, as they provide water storage and allow water transfers encouraging population growth, will be resisted, when the real answer for the growth of humanity is to resist their anti-human advocacy.

An excerpt.

“(09-28) 19:38 PDT -- Thirty years ago, a chunk of chain, an eyebolt and Mark Dubois helped end the era of big dam building in California.

“Dubois, a bearded, 6-foot-8, 30-year-old river guide from Sacramento, chained himself to a rocky outcropping on the north bank of the Stanislaus River and stayed there for a week, determined to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from filling the canyons behind New Melones Dam and submerging the limestone caves, verdant meadows and petroglyphs of the river valley.

“Dubois lost that fight: New Melones had been approved in the 1940s and was well under way when he and the nascent Friends of the River got involved. But he and hundreds of others who celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Stanislaus Campaign next month believe their work is echoing through a new generation as another dam debate emerges in California.

"We didn't win 30 years ago, but the world has changed," Dubois said in a telephone interview from his home on Bainbridge Island in Washington state. "Even though (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) is pushing these dams, people know they don't make sense."

“As California grapples with an aging water-delivery network, growing population, worsening water quality, a drought and the potentially far-reaching effects of global climate change, dams are again on the table.

“Last month Schwarzenegger insisted he would not sign off on any major overhaul of the water system without money for new dams and reservoirs.

“The governor has the support of conservatives and the vast Central Valley, where many farmers are convinced that new, man-made lakes will help offset dry spells and ease the federal rulings that have cut water pumped through the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.”

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Sex Offenders, California & the Parkway

Keeping track of sex offenders is certainly an issue in the Parkway—where 20 of them are apparently illegally camping as we noted in an earlier post—and keeping track also appears to be a statewide issue, as this article from the New York Times reveals.

An excerpt.

“A series of high-profile crimes involving parolees in California highlight the challenges of keeping track of them in a state that discharges more than 120,000 inmates annually, more than any other.

“Last month, two campus police officers at the University of California, Berkeley, became suspicious of a paroled sex offender named Phillip Garrido and called his parole officer, leading to Mr. Garrido’s arrest on charges of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard, now 29, in 1991, raping her and holding her captive in a backyard encampment.

“Like the sex offenders Mr. Littleton supervises, Mr. Garrido had been monitored by GPS and visited at his home at least twice a month by parole agents. But he was still able to keep his secret for 18 years.

“In July, a Los Angeles man on parole was arrested in the kidnapping and murder of a 17-year-old girl, and an Oakland parolee shot and killed four police officers before killing himself.

“California is the only state that places all released prisoners on parole, no matter the seriousness of their crime. Even at a time of historically low violent crime, critics argue that overloading parole agents compromises public safety.

“Legislation passed this month will reduce the “average” caseloads for parole agents to 45, from 70, and nonviolent, less serious offenders will no longer be returned to prison for administrative infractions like missing counseling appointments, ditching parole agent visits or failing drug tests. Agents handling some of the most violent offenders, like Mr. Littleton’s parolees, will also see their caseloads reduced.”

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Parks, Rangers & Crime

As this article from the Sacramento Bee notes, the loss of ranger presence in the state parks system, due to the severe budget cuts, will probably result in a big increase in crime; a natural consequence when law enforcement reduces its presence.

The situation is the same in the Parkway, compounded by the inability of public leadership to address the long simmering issue of illegal camping by the homeless in the Lower Reach of the Parkway; which is a crimeogenic situation impacting Parkway users and the adjacent community.

Our solution to the problem in the Parkway is to form a Joint Powers Authority (JPA)—currently being discussed by public leadership—and create a nonprofit organization to manage the Parkway and raise supplemental funding philanthropically.

The advantages here are obvious, as the JPA provides a broader funding stream for base funding, and the managing nonprofit (as a 501 c (3) nonprofit organization) has the ability to raise supplemental funding, with public safety the priority.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article on state parks.

“Crime in California's state parks has more than doubled over the past decade, outpacing growth in the statewide crime rate and in park use, according to a review of park crime data by The Bee.

“There were 58,475 criminal incidents in California's 279 state parks in 2008, or an average of 160 every day, according to crime data obtained from the state Department of Parks and Recreation. The crime rate rose from 35 crimes per 100,000 visitors in 1999 to 75 last year.

“From simple trespassing to theft of artifacts, park crime has been raised as a leading concern as the state prepares to close more parks on weekdays – or for entire seasons – to address a budget crisis.

“State Parks Department officials blame the increase largely on urbanization pushing up against park borders.

“Other park advocates say years of tight budgets have left parks inadequately patrolled by rangers. As park use increased 20 percent in the past decade – to 79 million people – the number of rangers remained flat.”

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sex Offenders Camping in Parkway

The Rancho Cordova Post has reported on this story.

An excerpt.

“The homeless that camped at the now-closed tent city in Sacramento are returning to their original camping sites, said Park Ranger Tim McElheney during a Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 8.

“During the meeting, McElheney also indicated that parolees and probationers camping on the parkway are saying their corrections officers are telling them to “go and live down by the river until the rangers kick you out.” He stated that since tent city’s closure, the number of registered sex offenders camping on the parkway has increased 200 percent.

“Once tent city was closed, all those people had to go somewhere and the parkway has been one of those places they’ve gone back to,” McElheney said. “Since it has been removed we now have a huge impact. We have just finished cleaning up a large area of approximately 5 tons of material within the past two weeks.”

“McElheney said the parkway does not have enough resources to effectively deal with the growing number of illegal campers. “It is something we cannot deal with consistently enough except to move them along,” he said.”

The sex offenders illegally camping near a community in Georgia we blogged on recently have been told to leave, according to this report from Cobb County News.

An excerpt.

“A group of homeless sex offenders who had been living in tents in the woods behind an office park near Marietta were told they had to leave the land by Tuesday.

“We don’t want to allow anyone to live on our property for liability issues,” said Mark McKinnon, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, which owns the wooded land where the sex offenders had taken residence.

“Several men said their probation officers had told them about the encampment as a kind of last resort for homeless sex offenders trying to meet the strict residency requirements of their probation.

“Georgia’s law prohibits the state’s 16,000 sex offenders from living, working or loitering within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, child care facilities and other areas where children gather. It limits the locations where they can live.”

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sacramento’s Economy

It is the 32nd largest in the nation, as this article from the Business Journal notes.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento has the 32nd-largest economy in the nation, and the sixth-best in California, according to a new federal report.

“The four-county region — from Auburn to Woodland — had a gross metropolitan product of $93.7 billion in 2008, about one-eighth the size of Los Angeles, which finished in second place behind New York City. San Francisco-Oakland finished at No. 8 nationwide, and second best in the state.

“San Diego had the third-largest economy in the state and No. 16 nationwide, while San Jose and Riverside-San Bernardino also finished ahead of Sacramento in the state.

“New York City is America’s only metropolitan area with a trillion-dollar economy, according to the just-released report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“The New York City area, which sprawls across four states, generated a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of $1.264 trillion last year, outpacing all other metros by far.”